If you have a housecleaner, does s/he clean your Au Pair’s room?

by cv harquail on December 14, 2009

200912141155.jpgI admit, I was a little surprised to learn that some of us who pay to have our houses cleaned include the au pair’s room in the housecleaner’s duties.

Probably it’s because I’m always trying to save money and have needed to have the housecleaner’s energy all on the main parts of the house, but we’ve never had our housecleaner do the au pair’s room too. As I think on it, I think that I also have wanted to have the au pair be responsible for her own room so that she had more privacy and didn’t get spoiled.

200912141155.jpgBut let’s take a quick poll of those of us who pay to have our houses cleaned…. (I’m not including host parents who clean the house themselves, because I’m assuming that none of you clean the au pair’s room for her… do you?)

If you pay someone to help clean your house …

Does your housecleaner clean your au pair's room?

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Other thoughts? Add them to the comments!

(I’ll move some of the comments about this from our earlier post on messy Au Pair rooms…)

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NY mom December 15, 2009 at 9:40 am

I don’t have house cleaner at the moment, but if I did, AP’s room and bathroom would get cleaned on par with the rest of the house, unless I would only bring the cleaning person to clean the public area of the house. But, if my bedroom gets cleaned, and kids bedrooms get cleaned, how can AP’s room not get cleaned?

I suppose I don’t have to worry about this dilemma as I am unlikely to get a cleaning person as long as we do have au pairs. My budget allows for only one of these two luxuries.

Aussie Mom December 15, 2009 at 9:41 am

Ummm…sorry but I have a problem with using your cleaning ladies to clean the AP’s room! The AP experience is a good opportunity to teach some of these young girls to take pride in their home and surroundings. Getting the cleaner to clean up after them is really setting them up to fail and to turn them into real little princesses. My past 4 AP’s were expected to keep their rooms clean and tidy at all times. All the bedrooms in our house are on the same level so as you walk up the stairs, the AP room is visible. We have a very strict rule about no eating in bedrooms…we live in the subtropics and we would have a problem with cockroaches and other rodents if we allowed food upstairs. I have heard some horror stories of what some AP mums have found under the bed of their AP…..yuk!!!

I will go into their room if I need to check that windows are closed and ceiling fans are switched off when the AP is out. Also I fine pick my AP so that she will be a positive role model for my daughter. So a slob or a princess is out of the question.

Anonymous December 15, 2009 at 12:15 pm

I disagree. Our last au pair wouldn’t allow the housekeeper into her room or bathroom and she was the most irresponsible, immature princess that I could possibly imagine.

Our current au pair gets her room and bathroom cleaned weekly but she still needs to keep it tidy and picked up between. She is very responsible, helpful, mature and most importantly the TOTAL opposite of a princess.

Hula Gal December 15, 2009 at 11:16 am

I believe that having your home cleaned (whether you do it yourself or hire someone) on a regular basis is an important part of home maintenance and taking care of your property and investment. Carpets get ruined, grout gets moldy and sinks get soap scum if they are not cleaned often. I don’t think it is my job to teach my AP to be an adult, be responsible, and be self-sufficient. I want her to be that way already when she gets here! The second one wasn’t and I didn’t have the time and energy to be checking to see if she cleaned properly (she wouldn’t have). But the AP we have now used to clean and look after her family at home. She doesn’t need that kind of “training” here. Besides, it only costs $5 for her room and $5 for the bathroom. Twice a month – I can handle that for the peace of mind.

TX Mom December 15, 2009 at 12:13 pm

Originally my house cleaner did not clean the AP room and bathroom, but then I changed cleaning services and had a slobby AP. So I had the house cleaner tackle the AP’s dirty bathroom once a month and now it’s on the same schedule as the rest of the house. My LCC indicated to me years ago (pre apm website) that it wasn’t fair to have the house cleaned excluding the AP room and bathroom. Glad to have this forum now to share with other HF’s.

StephinBoston December 15, 2009 at 12:25 pm

Thought really never crossed my mind, the kids use the same bathroom, and in the end, when I don’t have an ap anymore, I don’t want that room to be “trashed” so yes, my housekeeper cleans her room but I make it clear to them that it needs to be neat so she can do her job and quickly.

My 2 cents December 15, 2009 at 1:40 pm

We don’t. I don’t see the need and it’s a considerable expense in our case. Their e space is truly their space and haven’t thought at all about it being unfair, really. I already give them a car, a phone, plenty to eat and a huge living space with a private bath on a separate floor, cable TV, and of course the general pleasure of my company ;) . If they want to live sloppily, go right ahead, so long as there are no health hazards involved and they aren’t destroying the space I’m not involved in how they use their space and don’t supervise it’s general maintenance.

Calif Mom December 15, 2009 at 1:42 pm

Our housecleaner comes weekly to do the grungy cleaning. But AP and kids are responsible for tidying up so she can really clean. Picking up and putting away is NOT the house cleaner’s job.

AP shares a super-tiny bathroom with two kids, and that bathroom needs real attention!

AP’s room gets vacuumed if she wants our cleaner to. they work it out together, since I’m at work and they are at the house at the same time. I don’t really care and the cost hasn’t changed as a result.

We have a hands-off policy with AP room, but we also have a tremendously huge dog with an affinity for beds (he was a “rematch” himself, and previous owners let him sleep on their beds and sofa, which we do not!) so we all keep our bedroom doors closed in order to keep our beds nice-smelling. So we don’t see into our AP’s room, and I feel strongly that that is her space. She periodically tidies up, and while she loves having the girls in her room, that is strictly her choice.

We always knock, and I always tell her if I had to go in to do something — leave mail on her desk, turn off the lights, etc.

Momofboys December 15, 2009 at 2:04 pm

I think of it as an reinvesting in my largest asset…my house. We recently hired a cleaning service and they will be cleaning the au pair’s room and bathroom. She will be responsible for changing her sheets, making the bed and tidying up but they will clean these two rooms.

JJ December 15, 2009 at 2:17 pm

Our housekeeper comes every other week. It forces us, including the au pair, to tidy up the clutter so that she can get in to clean. The housekeeper dusts and vacuums the au pair’s room, but the au pair is responsible for decluttering, and for washing and changing her own sheets. The au pair shares a bathroom with the kids, and the kids are definitely responsible for more of the mess than the au pair, so it’s only fair to pay for that to be cleaned.

Anonymous December 15, 2009 at 3:25 pm

My contract with my agency says that the aupair is repsonsible for her room and must share maintenance of the ” common areas”
This means ( it says it in writing ) the bathroom , living room and kitchen. So , I ask the weekly cleaning service to vacuum all of the bedrooms including the aupair’s room. No one who lives in my home is permitted to ” forbid ” a cleaning provider to enter her room.
If an aupair told me that, I would go into rematch. I tell everyone this when I interview them. I also reserve the right to say that a room is unfit to assign to a cleaning service. Children and aupairs must tidy up prior to the arrival of the cleaning lady. I had an aupair once who had a very haughty attitude toward the cleaning lady and I told the aupair that she and I had different value systems and it was not going to work out. I told the agency that I wanted a rematch. The aupair told my children ( who liked her ) that I was being very mean. I told the children that no one is permitted to be rude to the lady who cleans our home. She is not a family member but she is a valued colleague. My kids really understood this. I also want to say that I asked the aupair, nicely, a couple of times to speak respectfully to the lady who cleans my house before coming to this position. She told me that Americans are too nice to the help.
I told her that this egalitarian attitude is what makes me a nice host mother, too. It was a real pain in the neck to rematch but I felt that this was very important.

franzi December 15, 2009 at 4:02 pm

2 families – 2 different ways to go about this topic.

in the first family i shared the bathroom with the kids and that one was cleaned by the cleaners weekly. however, the HP made it very clear that the cleaners did not clean my room and that it was my responsibility to take care of it.
my room was in the attic and i had my own vacuum (in order to not have any excuses of not being able to drag the vacuum upstairs).

the second family had cleaners come in every other week (though the house needed it more often) ;-) and i was asked if i wanted my room cleaned as well. it was a small room so no big deal for me to do it myself.
i had orders that they will only clean the floor (no dusting and the like) and they will only clean the accessible floor (no picking up stuff by the cleaner). the bathroom that i shared with the kids was always cleaned by the cleaners and the kids and i took turns.

i know that the AP after me chose not to have the cleaners clean and that raised an alarm with my host dad…she turned out to be a mess character wise, with regard to her ways of dealing with the children, and in life in general.

to get back to the topic, i don’t think it should be expected to have the AP room cleaned but i don’t think that vacuuming only should be such a big deal either.

Chicago Mom December 15, 2009 at 4:23 pm

Our au pair’s room was on the 3rd floor (away from the rest of the family) and we had a few rules – no candles, no nails in the wall unless you ask us, and no food – and she shared a 2nd floor bathroom with the kids. Our cleaning service came every 2 weeks and in the whole year, I only had them go upstairs 2 times. They did clean the kids’ bathroom, though. I did get frustrated by the au pair, because our rules to her stated that she should tidy up after the kids in the bathroom, change the towels regularly, clean the toothpaste off the sink, etc. and I felt she blew that off and left the room a mess for it to be cleaned by someone else every 2 weeks. I will not let this happen for the next au pair (if we still have a cleaning service). Because after she was off duty, I saw that bathroom every night and it was gross. And I won’t accept gross in my house!! I need to be better at setting bathroom cleaning expectations with the next au pair.

Darthastewart December 15, 2009 at 4:43 pm

We’ve asked the House cleaners to clean the au-pair’s room in the past (when we’ve had a house cleaner) And the au-pair typically turns them away.

MommyMia December 15, 2009 at 6:54 pm

Our housecleaner will vacuum and dust the AP’s room if things are picked up and tidy (she doesn’t move lots of items on the dresser or desk) and she does clean her bathroom as well. AP launders the linens when she does her & the kids’ laundry. Ditto the other HMs who stated that it raises a flag when they don’t want their room to be cleaned–they can skip one week, for instance if they’ve been gone on the weekend and didn’t get a chance to pick up or put things away, but it’s not something they can permanently opt out of. I learned the hard way after having to do heavy-duty cleaning & repairs after a previous AP who never allowed her room to be cleaned & never bothered to do it herself. Now I am alerted if any stains appear on the carpet or furniture, repairs needed, etc.

maleaupairmommy December 16, 2009 at 3:44 am

We have the houskeeper clean his room. Amazing enough this makes him clean his room at least every two weeks as he doesn’t want to be embarrassed by his room. Sometimes it looks like a bomb has exploded. He has been with us two years and after a few months he learn how to keep his bathroom tidy who he shares with the kids. We didn’t get a housekeeper until he had been with us for almost 18 months so he is thrilled beyond words to have this benefit.

Janina Lights December 16, 2009 at 11:18 am

the au pair’s room is so big that the housekeeper will be so tired cleaning the room? I find this thought so miserable. Hiring someone to clean the whole house except the fourth of the au pair is a bad attitude. In my case I would say that it did not need and I would clean my own room, as I do in my own home. But I think the attitude to exclude only the au pair room very miserable.The au pair know they are not really part of the family and that’s just an idea to let the situation of living so far from home more comfortable and cozy but they need not be reminded of this situation with these unhappy attitudes.

italianAuPair December 16, 2009 at 12:39 pm

thank you for that post!!!

CV December 16, 2009 at 1:40 pm

Janina, look more closely at the comments by parents who don’t have the housekeeper clean the APs room. There are a range of reasons, few of which are about being absolutely stingy or wanting to show the AP she is not part of the family.

My 2 cents December 16, 2009 at 5:14 pm

I’m sure where you are getting the concern over the housekeeper being too tired. In our case the cleaning lady does not clean other parts of the house as well.

In any event, I don’t feel obligated to pay extra for that service for my au pairs. The whole notion that an au pair would feel less valued and respected over this is ludicrous. I surmise that if an au pair feels she’s not part of the family based on the fact her host family won’t pay for a professional to clean her room, there’s bigger issues of entitlement at play. There are loads of other things we do for ourselves as host parents to which we do not include the au pair, or our children for that matter. We use a dry cleaner for some our clothes. Should we now pay for your dry cleaning too? We go out to eat at expensive restaurants on occasion without our au pair. Should we now bring her along too?

The au pair’s room is hers for the year. I consider it her property as if she were a paying tenant and do not enter unless necessary. Comparing it to the cleaning of my room or my children’s rooms is silly. I am the head of household. You are not. I respect you, but you are not my equal. I freely enter my children’s room whenever I want and will continue to do so in my role as a parent.

Busy Mom December 20, 2009 at 1:01 pm

Well said, My 2 Cents. I agree and have never had my cleaning service clean my au pair (and before than nanny’s) room. They do clean the batroom because it is used by other guests.

Ann from NE December 16, 2009 at 7:36 pm

Although it is a luxury for us, we have a housecleaner every two weeks partially because it forces us, the host parents, to declutter the house (not one of my strong points!), and it also keeps the dust levels down, which is good for my family’s allergies. While we had an AP I felt that it was important to continue having a housecleaner so that the AP would know that we valued her primarily as a childcare giver, and that although she was expected to help tidy and clean kids’ and her own stuff, that someone else would take care of the “heavy cleaning.” The housekeeper cleans only our main living floor, not the floor that the AP’s room is on; I never heard any complaints from APs over this policy. I had to walk through their room to get to another area of the house occasionally anyway (only if they were not here); as long as there was a basic level of hygiene, I never commented on the state of clutter in their room, just like I didn’t want them to comment on the level of clutter in my private space! It was the cleanliness and tidiness of the shared public spaces that were our mutual priority. Other things – health, happiness, safety of everyone in family including AP were more important to me.

Chev December 17, 2009 at 1:49 am

My host family has a cleaner who comes fortnightly and she cleans my bathroom and vacuums and dusts the blinds in my room. I’m not a dirty person but i’m also not the tidiest au pair out there either. I like the fact that i have to make sure i tidy my room up really well at least once a fortnight before she comes so it’s easier for her to get in and out of my room. My HM does the same thing with the kitchen and dining room once a fortnight too which makes me feel a bit better about it :)

PB Mom December 17, 2009 at 8:11 pm

I have a cleaning service that comes weekly to clean the whole house. They give me a flat rate for the whole house so there’s no additional expense if they clean or don’t clean the AP’s room.

I consider my AP a member of the family so as a member of the family, I give each family member the option of having their bedroom cleaned by the cleaning service or not. My daughter chose to maintain her own desk area and not have the cleaning service dust it. I’ve had a lot of au pairs and they’ve all chosen to maintain their own room instead of having the cleaning service come. The room is not that big so there’s not much to clean. They all liked their privacy and didn’t think it was a big deal to maintain their own room.

europhile December 18, 2009 at 1:25 am

I have a cleaning service come in once every two weeks. I’d love to have them weekly, but it would be too much strain on the budget. That said, we have our au pair take care of her own area — she has a room with an ensuite bathroom, plus a big walk-in closet. Of the three APs we have had, only one was a really messy person (I can relate to that, I am quite messy myself), but I see their room as their oasis (and responsibility), and want them to take care of it themselves. None of my APs came from a home where there was a cleaning lady — it was usually mom, and they had to help out, too. So I don’t think I am asking too much for them to clean their own area.

If our AP shared her bathroom, I would definitely have it cleaned by the cleaners.

NoVA Host Mom December 18, 2009 at 11:02 am

Our cleaning lady comes in every two to three weeks, and yes, I have her mop and vaccum the AP’s room. The bathroom is a shared bath (by my toddler, the AP and any guests we have) so that is also cleaned, but more throughly than her bedroom. It is her responsibility to change her sheets and wash them, as well as to keep things tidy. This is a small investment in our house, yet still holds the AP responsible for the condition of her room.

'sota gal December 18, 2009 at 6:00 pm

Our cleaning service cleans our AP’s bedroom and bathroom with no exceptions. The bathroom is also the guest bath and her bedroom and bathroom are down a private hall, it is still visible to our guests. I am also a huge neat freak…but I expect the same of my AP’s that I do of myself and my kids. Beds made, things picked up, room tidy, no food/dishes in BR, tell me about spills on carpets ASAP. I also inspect on occasion to make sure that things aren’t being damaged. Another reason for insisting that her room is tidy is that she will take our girls in there to hang out once in a while. The change of scenery is a great novelty when you have two cranky 3 year olds on your hands but not so great if they are tripping over/getting into all of your stuff.

aussie mum December 20, 2009 at 7:54 am

Oh for goodness sakes!….I have an aupair because I need help….the thought of using the cleaning lady’s time to clean up after the aupair is outrageous!….no wonder some of these girls turn out the way they do because they get mollie coddled. They are adults….they are quite capable of cleaning their own rooms and thus setting a good example for our children….if you pay your cleaning lady to clean your AP’s room, sorry mums, but YOU HAVE CREATED YOUR OWN PRINCESS!

JJ December 20, 2009 at 6:12 pm

I totally disagree. Just in case this wasn’t clear upthread, it seems like those of us who do have the au pair’s room cleaned do it out of a desire to care for the house, not a desire to coddle our au pairs. It’s a way to make sure the au pair’s room is clean and presentable on a regular basis so that we’re not left with a mess and a damaged room at the end of a year-long stay.

Both my au pairs have actually been very neat people so this hasn’t been an issue, but it’s a good expectation for us to send upfront. If I have to declutter every two weeks, so does she. End of story.

ex ap January 5, 2010 at 3:17 am

Dear Aussie mom, i totally agree with you, all host moms should see it this way. an au pair should be an adult looking after your children (she should still feel part of the family even if you dont like it) its her own task to clean her room and everything that the kids touch, wear or sleep in. her room should be her proud (her thrown or whatever) its her space just let her know that you wont go in there because its her space and you dont want to be an intruder. DONT CLEAN THE AU PAIR ROOM, thats the beginning of creating your problems, next she will want her own car, cell phone, bonus each week. Treat your au pair by the book! TRUST me you will want to!

anonmom December 20, 2009 at 1:13 pm

Our cleaning people have a hard enough time cleaning our house biweekly- it’s a mess!! With kids, their activities and 2 parents working full time, it is hard enough for us to tidy before cleaning comes. SO, the entire area where the au pair ‘lives’, her room and the den area, are not cleaned by the cleaning people. I have always felt that their room is theirs, and they are entitled to their privacy. And, lastly the cost to me would be prohibitive!

chithu January 2, 2010 at 7:37 pm

my host parents have an housekeeper who comes thrice a week. i live in this huge 3-storey house, and she cleans one floor each day. i live in the 3rd floor attic, and she changes my sheets and cleans my bathroom once a week. by this, i don’t mean that she picks up things and decluttters – she cleans the wash basin, toilet and the shower room, and vacuums the carpet.

It is I who keeps my room clean every day. I love my room and i make sure i do not have clutter or mess on the floor. my host family arranged it so and told me that childcare is my main responsiblity. they said i am the nanny who looks after children, and the housekeepr is the proffessional who looks after the house. it takes real generosity and warmth to say this to the au pair, and I am lucky that I have such good HP. i believe the housekeeper is paid a round amount every week, and is not going to get paid less if she skips any one area (for eg. my room).

I have worked as au pair in 3 places in the last 1.5 years in London, and I have never been asked to do any heavy cleaning of my “domain”. But if I have been asked to, I wouldn’t have said no. As long as there is no crazy attitude from HP who tries to save money by pennypinching from the au pair, I have no problem cleaning my bathroom or vaccuming my carpet. I had an au pair friend who was asked to dry her clothes on the garden (as if London has a proper summer) and not use the dryer to save electricity, yet her host family went to Barbados every year and drank wine every day after dinner. It is this sort of attitude that really makes au pairs feel miserable!

and yes, i do think that it is plain horrible that the au pair’s room alone can be excluded from cleaning. such deals can build resentment and only sour the whole r’ship. i am not judging anybody. yes, there are princesses out there and it is real unfortunate that such au pairs taint the whole crowd and makes things difficult for efficient au pairs. but if one wants to be authorative and “teach” the au pair to be responsible etc etc, then you will only end up with a child/princess/sulky teen to take care of!

au pair February 8, 2010 at 1:11 pm

I have my own bedroom, and a bathroom in the basement. However the basement, and sometimes bathroom is used by the kids and other guests. There is a cleaning lady that comes in fortnightly and does the vacuuming, scrubbing etc, but I tidy mine and the kid’s areas in order for this to happen. I am very tidy but also do other chores, so it is nice that there is a cleaning lady coming fortnightly to do the main cleaning. I always make sure my area is tidy, dusted and has clean towels, and the bins go out etc

Soccer Mom February 8, 2010 at 10:42 pm

I do think chithu’s HF is in a different league (in terms of affluence) than most HFs. I had a cleaner before I had an AP, so the cleaner was not cleaning the vacant AP room and unused AP bathroom at the time. I don’t think continuing to exclude her area from what we pay the cleaners to do weekly sends a msg that she is not part of the family, I think it more says that part of her responsibilities while living with us is to clean her area – where she has an extreme amount of privacy. Even when she works 45 hours per week, she still has waaaaaaaaaay more free time than I do. She is supposed to have more free time than I have, I am the mom so I do what she does for work, in my free time when I’m not working, that is part of the agreement. Also part of the agreement is that she is responsible for maintaining her room/living area and I still think she gets a pretty good deal. I do think including her room and bathroom would send the msg that we don’t expect her to get her hands dirty at all, and a few of our 6 APs already had an aversion to that…………..

helgalabelga April 7, 2010 at 12:44 pm

We ask our cleaning lady to clean (not pick up!) the AP’s bedroom and bathroom because we’d like our au pair to spend all of her energy on our son — that’s why we hired her in the first place! I am sure she wouldn’t have objected to doing it herself either, since she’s been in the military and is used to a great deal of scrubbing and cleaning.

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